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Nikola’s truck prototype did, in fact, simply roll down a hill for a promotional video filmed in 2017, but the company says it never claimed the vehicle was operating under its own power. The admission came as part of a lengthy rebuttal on Monday to claims made by a short-seller last week that the electric-truck startup had garnered its soaring market valuation and deals with legacy automakers through numerous lies and other deceptions.
“The report from Hindenburg, an activist short-seller financially motivated to manipulate the market and profit from a manufactured decline in Nikola’s stock price, contains a number of false and misleading statements regarding the Company’s operations and multi-year, groundbreaking R&D efforts,” the company said in a press release.
After a brief stutter in early trading Monday, shares of Nikola made up some of their heavy losses from last week, climbing more than 7% following the company’s response.
As for the Nikola One truck, which Hindenburg Research claimed in its report was inoperable, the company offers a counterargument: “Nikola described this third-party video on the Company’s social media as ‘In Motion,'” the company said. “It was never described as ‘under its own propulsion’ or ‘powertrain driven.'”
Nikola claims that the truck was “designed to be powered and driven by its own propulsion,” but after pivoting to its newer Nikola Two prototype, the company opted to “not to invest additional resources into completing the process to make the Nikola One drive on its own propulsion.”
That admission also confirms a Bloomberg News report from June that said a Nikola One prototype on display at a 2016 event was inoperable. At the time, Nikola denied the story by claiming it had never said the truck could be driven under its own power.
Hindenburg also claimed that chairman Trevor Milton’s tweets about five Nikola “Tre” trucks “coming off the line right now in Ulm, Germany,” wasn’t true. In its response, Nikola said that the five pre-production builds “are currently being built,” and accused the firm of taking an employee’s quotes out of context. It’s not clear how many trucks have been completed.
These were planned to release later but alleged trucks didn’t exist in Ulm Germany. Do these look fake? Thanks to the Ulm fab / assembly teams for showing the trolls what’s up. You guys have my admiration. F@&k the haters. Well come back stronger from the lies spread about us. pic.twitter.com/uqkAxyAG8o
— Trevor Milton (@nikolatrevor) September 11, 2020
Finally, Nikola disavowed supposed contracts between dHybrid, Milton’s previous venture, and trucking giant Swift transportation that Hindenburg said caught Milton in another lie. Nikola said the excerpt published by Hindenburg does not include “an option [for Swift] to acquire up to an additional 11,700 systems at $20,000 per vehicle, bringing the total potential value of the contract to $250 million.”
The spat, which has virtually erased all of Nikola’s stock gains since announcing a $2 billion deal with General Motors earlier in September, puts all eyes on the company’s future execution, …read more
Source:: Business Insider